Every single player I work with wants to throw harder. Hip to shoulder separation is the single most important element for a pitcher to generate velocity. Hip to shoulder separation is responsible for over 80% of a pitchers velocity.
Hip to shoulder separation is how far a pitchers front hip opens up while his throwing shoulder stays back. The more hip to shoulder separation we get, the harder we will throw. When our front hip opens up while our throwing shoulder stays back, the core is what pulls the ball through like a whip. Using the big muscles to throw the baseball will take a ton of stress off your UCL (elbow) and shoulder.
Now that we know what hip to shoulder separation is, let's figure out how to get more of it.
Stride length and leg drive have a lot to do with hip to shoulder separation. Usually, the longer the stride, the more hip to shoulder can be achieved. The reason I say "usually" instead of saying a long stride will automatically make you throw harder is because if you jump off the mound the back foot comes up. When the back foot comes up, it no longer matters how long your stride is because your throwing shoulder is coming along with it. When the back foot comes up, it vastly eliminates hip to shoulder separation because your throwing shoulder is coming through at the same time as your core.
Think of a boxer punching an opponent. If the boxers back foot comes up before his punch makes contact, the punch is essentially 'all arm'. The same is true in pitching. If a pitchers back foot comes up before release (meaning he jumped off the mound) the pitch will be all arm. That is why it is so important to understand that the back foot must stay in contact with the mound until you fully release the baseball.
Again, if your back foot comes up before you release the baseball, you are putting too much stress on your UCL (elbow) and shoulder.
Here's how to achieve hip to shoulder separation :
Aroldis Champan is a great example of hip to shoulder separation. The way Aroldis generates hip to shoulder separation is through scap-loading. Scap-loading is the same powerful position you are in when you do rows or chest press at the gym. The scap-loaded position is the shoulder blades pinched together as seen above and below.
The more hip to shoulder separation in our delivery, the more torque our core generates which translates directly to velocity.
Scap-loading is truly the key to understanding hip to shoulder separation. When we scap-load we now involve the big muscles in our back. Not to mention we stay extremely connected by scap loading. What a scap-load really does is allow your throwing shoulder to stay back even longer than a traditional arm circle. The longer our throwing shoulder stays back while our front hip opens up is how we create torque in the pitching motion.
Understanding hip to shoulder separation is the key to velocity. Hip to shoulder separation is also the key to overall arm health. By using the big muscles in the body to unravel like a whip, there is almost no stress on the UCL (elbow) or shoulder. So remember, keep your back foot on the mound, drive down it and scap-load to achieve maximum hip to shoulder separation and arm health.